March 10th 2018

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Family home in cities soaring further out of reach

EDITORIAL Australia: sleepwalking towards the precipice

CANBERRA OBSERVED Population debate needs development debate

NATIONAL AFFAIRS We need a development bank and a higher population

FOREIGN AFFAIRS Russians were spoilers: U.S. election rap sheet

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Bob Santamaria and free trade agreements

LAW AND FREEDOM Exemptions are far cry from protection of religious freedom

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS China v Professor Brady: intimidation or coincidence?

POLITICS AND SOCIETY Defending biological man and woman from transgenderism

SOUTH AUSTRALIA Swing to minor parties expected in SA poll

ASIA Burma: ignored and misunderstood

HISTORY The improbability of progress

MUSIC Playing the pitch: being in tune is a sometime thing

CINEMA Wonder: Our deeds are our monuments

BOOK REVIEW Exploring our own recent archives

BOOK REVIEW Rising in a society fractured at heart

BOOK REVIEW A dubious thesis but deserves a read

NEWS Pat Byrne elected new NCC president

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Liberals return for second term in Hobart

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China v Professor Brady: intimidation or coincidence?

by Peter Kelleher

News Weekly, March 10, 2018

In the first edition of News Weekly for this year (January 27), Bernard Moran reported on the work of Professor Anne-Marie Brady, a China specialist at New Zealand’s University of Canterbury. Last September, Professor Brady had published “Magic Weapons: China’s Political Influence Activities under Xi Jinping”, an extensive survey of the activities that China has pursued in NZ to forward China’s political and economic interests, activities that tread close to and sometimes cross the line of interference in NZ’s sovereignty.

Professor Anne-Marie Brady.

Now it has come to light that Professor Brady herself seems to have become the target of intimidation tactics, saying that in December of last year, her office at the university was broken in to. Now, in mid February just past, she received a warning letter that she was about to be attacked, and then, just days later, her home at Upper Riccarton, a suburb of Christchurch, was burgled.

Professor Brady mentioned these three events in a teleconference between herself and our own Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee in Canberra on February 15.

Matt Nippert wrote in the NZ Herald on February 16 (“University of Canterbury Professor Anne-Marie Brady concerned break-ins linked to work on China”) that Professor Brady was particularly suspicious of the break-in at her home. “ ‘I had three laptops – including one used for work – stolen. And phones. [Other] valuables weren’t taken. Police are now investigating that,’ she said.”

The home burglary made her suspicious, she told the Australian Parliamentary Committee, because, although computers, phones and USB storage devices were stolen, the thieves had not touched other obviously valuable items.

Professor Brady also told the committee that she had not been the sole target of intimidation. She said her employer at Canterbury University had come under pressure on account of earlier work Professor Brady had done on China’s Antarctic policy and, following a recent visit to China, people with whom Professor Brady had talked had received visits from authorities.

“People I’ve associated with in China, just last year, were questioned by the Chinese Ministry of State Security about their association with me,” she said.

Professor Brady said that China coordinated all activities of this type under the banner of a “united front”, which was a broad attempt to sway public opinion and political elites around the world in favour of China’s assertive new foreign policy.

“Australia and New Zealand appear to have been a test zone for ‘united front’ activities in recent years. And it’s now reached a critical level,” she told the committee.

Since Professor Brady’s revelations, NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has ordered security agencies to look into the burglary.

“I think anyone would be concerned [about] any criminal act if it were in response to the work she’s doing,” Ms Ardern said.

She said as minister responsible for national security and intelligence, she was following up the matter and would “certainly be asking some questions”.

“I would certainly want to be informed if there was evidence this was a targeted action against someone who was raising issues around foreign interference … If there’s evidence of that we should be taking stock of that and taking action,” she said.

Professor Brady has since these events nonetheless continued to speak out clearly about the threat that China poses to small countries such as New Zealand (and Australia).

The NZ Herald ran a commentary piece by Professor Brady on February 21, 2018, under the headline “New Zealand v China: ‘We could be the next Albania’ ”. She points up the irony of the reference to Albania.

She writes: “In March 2017, during the visit of Premier Li Keqiang to New Zealand, a senior Chinese diplomat favourably compared New Zealand-China relations to the closeness China had with Albania in the early 1960s.

“It was a startling and telling analogy, one which disconcerted New Zealand diplomats. In the Cold War years, Albania was the proxy for a global power struggle between the Soviet Union and the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

“As the Sino-Soviet split deepened in the early 1960s, Albania became estranged from the Soviet Union. Despite ideological differences with the policies of Mao Zedong, the government of Enver Hoxha was economically and politically dependent on the PRC.

“In the late 1970s the relationship ruptured over China’s failure to deliver economic development assistance. By the end of the Cold War era, Albania had become one of the poorest, most politically divided, and most corrupt of the former Eastern Bloc states.

“That is why, when senior Chinese diplomats mention New Zealand and Albania in the same sentence, we need to pay attention. New Zealand – along with Albania in the current era and a host of other countries – is being targeted by a concerted political interference campaign by the PRC. China’s foreign influence activities are part of a global strategy.”

She continues: “While the U.S. is consumed by the daily drama of the Trump presidency, Xi Jinping has been emboldened to pursue an increasingly assertive foreign policy and insisting that its strategic partners such as New Zealand fall into line with its interests and policies.

“Accompanying this more assertive foreign policy has been a massive increase in the CCP’s foreign influence activities. China did not have to pressure New Zealand to accept China’s soft power activities and political influence: successive New Zealand governments actively courted it. ... New Zealand governments have also encouraged China to be active in our region.”

Hopefully, if Professor Brady can wake up New Zealand, we in Australia may be jolted out of our slumber as we hear the alarm across the Tasman.

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